Study: Increasing Naloxone Access Improves Opioid Outcomes


Study findings presented at the 2021 ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition revealed naloxone counseling can impact the opioid crisis through patient education.

Opioid-related deaths have been on the rise over the last 20 years in the United States. Data show that in 2018, approximately 47,000 deaths from opioid overdoses occurred. The CDC has since released guidelines for health care providers prescribing naloxone; however, study findings presented at the 2021 ASHP midyear Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition revealed that naloxone is prescribed to only about 1% of patients.

To study naloxone prescribing and the role that community pharmacists have on the opioid crisis, researchers at 5 retail pharmacies screened patients with an opioid prescription. Inclusion criteria included total daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) of >50 MME or an opioid co-prescribed with a benzodiazepine, gabapentin, or pregabalin.

From April 1 to May 31, 2021, 490 patients were counseled on the need for naloxone to be available for them to use if needed. If patients were open to receiving naloxone, it was dispensed. A total of 315 patients—approximately 64.3%—accepted the naloxone, were trained in use by the pharmacist, and had the medication dispensed along with their opioid.

New York state's naloxone copay assistance program and organization 340b reallocation funds were used to help mitigate high costs.

Both the patient and family members were trained on the use of naloxone and handed an informational page to read. Health care providers were additionally notified that naloxone had been dispensed to their patient, and that the patient had be counseled and trained on its use.

Overall, 171 patients declined, and 2 patients had not presented to the pharmacy for pick up.

Researchers concluded, “increasing the availability of naloxone to patients at risk due to prescription opioid use can be achieved by pharmacists at the community level in states where naloxone is available, and if costs can be reduced for patients.”


1. Thorpe J, Waldron W, Hunter J. Implementation of a Pharmacist Initiated Naloxone Counseling and Dispensing Program in a Community Pharmacy Setting. Presented at: 2021 ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition; December 5-9, 2021.

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